A Kitchen for the Community
What does a community kitchen look like? In Northwest Arkansas, it began with a nudge. God had been impressing Compass Fellowship Northwest Arkansas company members James and Keri Harris to start a program for feeding the homeless in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. So, in May of 2021, Compass Fellowship invited anyone who wanted to be involved to meet and brainstorm how to start such a program. Because of COVID-19, they felt a drive-thru lunch program was the best option. A month later, the drive-thru program launched 25 lunches, but no one came. That did not deter their efforts, and Compass Fellowship kept doing what God had called them to do. Today, the Compass Fellowship Community Kitchen serves close to 250 meals a week!
Each week, several members purchase $650 worth of food from Sam’s, Walmart and Aldi grocery stores. We praise the Lord for the financial support of our faithful church members and even from some of our community kitchen recipients. We have received a $1,500 grant from Walmart and are working with Sam’s for a grant from them as well. With skyrocketing prices on food, gas, utilities and housing, people in our community are hurting. In addition to groceries, we share dog and cat food, toiletries and socks.
On Mondays, we fill bags with individually wrapped items and then transfer them to a 16-foot-long table in the church lobby stacked as high as we can. Afterwards we set up the church kitchen with four sandwich-making stations. The fun begins on Tuesday mornings when we make over 450 sandwiches! Into each lunch bag, two sandwiches are added; then they are stacked on carts, ready to be taken out for pickup. Other workers set out signs, put out the orange cones for the drive-thru and set up tables and chairs for those who will meet each car.
Each week, a dozen or more people come to help with this ministry. We are a group of mostly retired, refitted and recommitted Christians doing what Jesus asks us to do. At the beginning of the day we meet as a group to pray for those who will cross our paths that day. As multiple vehicles arrive, it’s wonderful to see smiling faces and prayers being offered by our members.
The Compass Fellowship Community Kitchen has helped some recipients over 50 times. They get to know us, and we get to know them by their names and their individual journeys. Jesus’ method was to mingle with people, meet their needs and bid them to follow Him. If it worked for Jesus, with the Holy Spirit leading us, it is working at the Compass Fellowship Community Kitchen. Neither rain nor snow, heat or ice has prevented us from serving meals to our community. Even when the forecast called for a 100 percent chance of rain, God held it off until the distribution was finished.
Community Kitchen started on May 30, 2021, and on May 30, 2022, we launched Celebrate Recovery, a Bible-based 12-step program for any sort of addiction. Church and community members grow through small group ministries like these. We share our stories and pray for one another.
The mission statement for Compass Fellowship is “Compass is a biblically true, safe environment, where people are free to belong, grow and serve.” We are family!
By Carol Birge. Birge is a member of the Compass Fellowship Northwest Arkansas Seventh-day Adventist Company in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Compass Fellowship NWA is a company in the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference.